The eastern philosophy of “be happy ,in whatever you have”has long been taken over by the western mind set to “always want more”.And this can be seen in our yoga practice too,many people unfortunately are lured to yoga by popular studios across the country as a quick fix alternate to lose wight,look good and feel toned.
A friend of mine recently joined a yoga studio after reading its advertisement for weight loss.The very first day of her yoga class and she was made to 54 rounds of surya namaskars and close to 12 asanas holding each asana for about 3 mins.
After the class all excited,she called me up,saying how lovely the class was,how much she sweated and how light she felt.
After a week or so I got an sos call from her,asking if I knew any orthopaediatrician cause her lower back is hurting a lot.
And unfortunately this is not one stray incident,but this happens all the time to most of us if we continue to do yoga without the knowledge of our own body,the alignment principles and certain safety measures to be adopted during our yoga practice.
Pain in the Asana — The Need-to-Know
While most yoga injuries aren’t severe and go unreported, more serious issues do occur, including strains and sprains, fractures, dislocations, and, in rare cases, bone spurs, sciatic nerve damage,back pain etc. But according to yoga experts, injuries can happen any time, in any sport, or even walking down the sidewalk — and scary injuries are rare. Most yoga injuries develop gradually over years of consistent over-stretching and misalignment. As with any physical activity, the safest approach to yoga is
• Yoga includes a sophisticated set of practices that ought to be practiced under the supervision of a competent teacher. Attempting yoga postures on your own could result in improper technique ensuing into injuries. Make certain to search out a qualified teacher before you start practicing
• Developing student physical awareness: Many students (especial beginners) are typically unaware of their physical limits and range of motion. To prevent injuries, make sure the beginners’ are smaller in order to able to keep an in-depth eye on all students.
• Avoid overexerting yourself. Remember, yoga is some thing that you will learn and develop over an extended amount of your time. Enable enough time for the body to develop the desired flexibility and strength before attempting advanced yoga postures.
• Continuously bear in mind to warm up before your yoga session. Never skip a warm up session. Warming up is of utmost importance because it is an injury prevention program for the body.
• Use props – Props are very important in preventing injuries. The unfortunate issue is that several students do not use them. You ought to additionally make sure that you utilize the props yourself. Once you try this, your students will presumably feel comfortable once they use them and this reduces the probabilities of students injuring themselves. When teaching, you ought not label entirely different poses as basic, intermediate, or advanced. Once you label poses, you are sure to have several injuries. Massive numbers of student are aiming at reaching the advanced levels quickly, which can create a mindset of competitiveness and result in injuries. As a tutor, you ought to clearly justify the importance of precaution and do not expect your students to discard their egos no matter how many times you tell them that yoga is not a contest.
COMMON AREAS OF INJURY AND THE PREVENTIVE STEPS TO BE TAKEN
- Wrists: When it comes to the wrists, it’s all about leverage. Placing all of the body’s weight in the wrists when the hands are on the mat can lead to muscle and joint injuries.
Find relief: When in doubt, spread ‘em. In any pose where weight is placed on the hands (such as down dog), distribute the body’s weight through both hands by spreading them wide and pressing through the fingers. In down dog, push the hips back to decrease the angle of the wrists to the floor. In arm balances, such as crow pose, look to see that the elbows are stacked directly over the wrist.
Elbows: Joint pain in the elbows can result from bending them out to the sides in poses likechaturanga. While it may be easier to execute, lowering down with outward-pointing elbows can stress the joint and can also put undue stresses on the wrists.
- Tuck and lower: When bending the elbows in a pose (particularly plank or chaturanga), keep the elbows tucked alongside the ribs as you bend them, and make sure the elbows’ creases face forward. If this is difficult (yes, it’s a serious test of triceps strength!), begin with the knees on the floor. Remember, you can always work up to the unmodified version through regular practice.
Shoulders: Beware the shrug. By raising the shoulders up toward the ears (like when moving intoup dog), yogis stop using the supporting muscles in the arms, shoulders, and neck. Shrugging also compresses the shoulders, which can cause muscle injuries. Even worse: It’s easy to injure the shoulder girdle or rotator cuff (and even dislocate the joint) by over-extending or over-stretching.
- Let go: Be careful not to pull too hard on the shoulders in stretches, and always keep the shoulders held back and down away from the ears.
Ribs: Twists are awesome for releasing tension, but if done improperly they can overextend or bruise the intercostal muscles (the muscles in between the ribs).
- Twist, don’t shout: Lengthen upwards through the spine before twisting. Imagine that someone has a string attached to the crown of your head and is very gently pulling you up toward the ceiling. Twist to the point of feeling a stretch but not past it, even if you’re flexible
.Lower back: Lower back pain is the most frequently cited yoga injury, and teachers speculate that it’s likely the result of rounding through the spine in poses like forward folds and down dog. Rounding causes the spine to flex the opposite way that it’s supposed to, which can cause disc problems in addition to that achy feeling post-class.
- Soothe the spine: Before bending, imagine lengthening the spine up and away from the hips to avoid rounding. Still struggling to stay on the straight and narrow? Try bending the knees in poses like forward folds and down dog, since the culprit could be tight hamstrings. During seated forward folds, try sitting on a blanket or block to take pressure off the lower back.
Hamstrings: Spend most days sitting in front of the computer, in class, or in the car? Guilty as charged. As a result, many of us have tight hamstrings, so it’s easy to pull or over-stretch them in poses like forward bends.
- Hamper pain: Down dog and lunges are great ways to stretch the hamstrings (just remember to go slowly and work at your own pace). If you have any kind of hamstring injury, try laying off poses that extend through the back of the body and legs until the injury heals.
- Get hip (to proper form): A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the toes are pointed forward in any pose where the hips are squared off in the same direction (think: warrior I). Imagine there are headlights attached to the front of the hips and that you’re trying to keep the area straight ahead of you illuminated at all times.Also if hips are tight ,try to elevate the hips by sitting on a block or blanket.This will help to keep the back straight without causing too much strain on the lower back.
Knee: Knee issues can plague even experienced yogis . A common culprit of pain is the cross-legged position. Flexibility carries from the hips first; if the hips are tight in the pose, the knees will be the first place to feel pain or tension.
- Prevent the pain: For those regularly bothered by knee pain, avoid sitting in cross-legged position or full lotus for long periods unless the hips are already very flexible. Placing a block or rolled-up blanket under the knees in cross-legged positions can also help reduce strain. Any time the knee is bent in a standing pose (such as warriors I and II), look to see that there’s a vertical line from the bent knee to the heel — this ensures that the body is bearing weight properly.
Neck: Head and shoulder stands can be the worst culprits for neck pain and injury. Repeatedly and incorrectly placing pressure on the neck in poses such as shoulder stand and headstand can compress the neck and put pressure on the cervical vertebrae, resulting in joint issues and, in some cases, loss of neck flexion.
- Prop it up: Have chronic neck or shoulder issues? It might be best to avoid full inversions all together (or attempt them only with close supervision and using props that elevate the neck away from the floor). For those who already practice the pose without props, make sure the shoulder blades are drawn down and back so they’re safely supporting the body. Most importantly, never jerk the head once you’re up in the pose, because it can destabilize the body, possibly causing a fall.
Proper alignment in poses is key, but it’s not the only factor in a safe yoga practice. To stay blissed out instead of stressed out over injury, follow the basic guidelines below.
- Leave ego outside. It can be tempting to rush into more advanced poses (how tough can handstands be, right?), but pushing our bodies before they’re ready is a recipe for injury. Yoga is “about finding where you are, “not trying to push to a place where your body may never be able to go.”
- Warm up. It’s an important part of any physical activity, and yoga is no exception. Basic stretches (like neck and shoulder rolls and gentle twists) help prepare the body for more challenging poses later on in a sequence. And remember to give the mind a chance to warm up to the practice: Take a few breaths to get centered at the beginning of class, or establish a pre-flow ritual (such as chanting some Oms) to get grounded.
- Ease in. No one would expect to run a marathon the first time they lace up their sneakers. Don’t expect to do a headstand or even get the heels to the floor in down dog the first time you hit the mat. Instead, opt for beginner-friendly classes that will develop the foundation for more advanced moves.
- Communicate. Get to know the teacher and be sure to share any pre-existing issues that might require modifications in certain poses.If you don’t know how to modify or use props, ask. And if a pose just isn’t working, don’t be embarrassed to simply… not do it. Instead, focus on the poses that provide benefit and release.
- Come out of postures slowly. This is particularly important if you’ve been holding a certain pose for several minutes. A good rule of thumb is to work out of a pose as gradually as you moved into it.
- Use props and modifications. There’s no shame in not being ready to hold a pose completelyon your own. If there’s tightness somewhere in the body, other parts of the body will have to accommodate it — which is why it’s so important not to push the body past what it’s able to do on a given day. Props and modifications allow the body to get a feel for a pose and gradually work up to its full variation without injury.
- Never lock your joints. Hyper-extension (locking) is a sure-fire way to wear out joints and cause injury down the road. Focus on engaging the muscles around the joints to gain stability .
- If you do get injured, take care. If you tweak, pull, or tear something during a yoga flow, don’t be afraid to step out of class early. Care for it like any other sports injury, and seek a professional’s opinion if the pain persists.
- Stay for savasana. It’s easy to head for the door as soon as the instructor calls for savasana (the final resting pose of a yoga flow), but sticking around is good for your health. Savasana allows the body’s nervous system to slow down and brings closure to the practice. Even just two or three minutes can have an effect.
- Above all: listen to your body. At all stages of yoga practice, stay mindful. Really listen to your body so you can be sensitive to any tightness or strain. Just because you did a particular pose one day, doesn’t mean your body will be able to do it the next. “In our yoga practice, “we are building a relationship with our bodies the same way we build them with other people: by listening.”
To sum it up,your yoga practice whether its hatha,power,vinyasa or ashtanga or any other style should be holistic,should be under guidance of trained and experienced instructor and above all should be mindfull where you learn to know and respect your own body.
DIRECTOR AND INSTRUCTOR
ANAHATA YOGA ZONE
Understanding and Preventing Yoga Injuries
International Journal of Yoga